February 2018 Blog Archive
Posted by Frank Preiss, on 8 February 2018. Comments: 1
With every day that passes the reality is becoming clearer: there is no version of Brexit that can make Britain as well off, let alone better off, than it is now as a full partner in the EU.
But Brexiters are putting about some quite mendacious untruths.
Their most rabble-rousing line is that we can't trust the huge majority of Remainer economists and politicians because their doom-laden forecasts were so wrong before the Referendum.
So what did they forecast, and what is happening?
In reality very few predicted an instant recession: most Remainers knew the damage would be cumulative, with its full impact after we left on 29 March 2019. Only a few more strident Remoaners forecast more immediate disaster. And even they weren't entirely wrong.
The world economy has been very much on the up in the last 18 months since the Referendum, but in that time Britain's growth rate has dropped from the top of the OECD to the bottom. The Pound has fallen irregularly by 5-10% against the Euro. Some very big companies have postponed investment decisions. Some banks and other financial institutions on whom our economy depends so much have started to move jobs to the EU. Japanese carmakers say they may have to leave.
Worse still, the completely conflicted Conservative party and government have provoked mild ridicule in Europe, destroying at a stroke 40 years of respect and admiration for Britain's very substantial contribution to a fine if flawed institution.
Now some experienced and impartial civil servants in the Treasury have produced a reasoned analysis of the probable outcomes of each of the three most likely kinds of Brexit that the government might achieve. It shows that all three will have a worse outcome than staying in the EU. Ironically it also shows that the worst-hit areas of Britain will be precisely those that voted most strongly to leave the EU. (It is tragic that the role of the EU in favouring poorer regions where national governments don't is so little understood.)
The Brexiters' - and government's - response to this?
Ah, but the analysis didn't consider the outcome of the government's preferred Brexit - a kind of cherry-picking trade agreement with the EU in which Britain gets all the benefits of membership with none of the obligations, and freedom to negotiate trade agreements on whatever terms we choose everywhere else. It's a pipe dream. It's not on offer.
The very prospect of Brexit has already done huge damage. It's mostly inflicted by a small but vocal and plausible group of reactionary Tories who can't quite come to terms with the modern international world.
Brexit can only be halted if and when a healthy majority of public opinion wills it. At the start of the 1975 Referendum campaign opinion polls showed 60/40 for leaving the EEC; six weeks later, after a well-informed and well argued campaign the polls were 60/40 for staying. That was a healthy majority. The British won't vote to make themselves poorer, or to make themselves look foolish and loose all respect in the world.
We must forget all the sterile arguments about the legitimacy of the 2016 Referendum. We must always be able to change our minds.
One way or another Brexit WILL be stopped.
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